Today on Paws4Thought we continue our series of Shades of Fear interviews. Today I’d like to introduce the author of Sweaty Sheets and Sleepless Nights, Joi Miner. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Joi.
I am always so terrible at interviews. I never know what to say. Lol. I think that people expect something grandiose and I just don’t think that anything I do is big enough. But, here goes. I am a 32 year old mother of two beautiful girls, Qadira and Phoenix (they are my Magnum Opuses, yes I have two). I also have a loving, supportive, handsome (if I do say so myself) husband, Johari, whom I have been with for almost 7 years. I am a poet and writer, using the penname Joi Miner, who has been writing since I was able to form coherent sentences. I love words and language. I was born in Selma, Alabama and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, where I presently reside. I am a work-from-home agent for Sykes at Home powered by Alpine Access, on the Sprint Project. I am co-founder of Poetic Advisory, LLC, a publishing imprint and event planning company that uses poetry to teach everything from coping skills to communication. I teach workshops to sexual assault and domestic violence survivors (of which I am both) to use writing as a tool for healing. I think that words can cure any ailment.
How did you get involved with Shades of Fear?
I am a part of this awesome group on Facebook, called Write On Wrimos!, that offers support to those who have participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). We encourage one another to complete our projects and chose to create an anthology to put our craft to good use (and make us write). I was honored to be chosen as one of the writers included in this anthology.
Who are your favorite authors?
Myself, can I say myself without sounding vain? Lol. I love Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde, Saul Williams, the list could go on for days. I also adore Omar Tyree, Eric Jerome Dickey, and many friends who are authors such as Shani Green-Dowdell, Terry L. Ware, Sr. (poet), Brenda Nicole Thomas (poet), Mick Scott (poet) and Casey Robbins. I have some friends who have not published yet that are extremely talented as well, like Tanith Rice-Harris, and Tessa Averhart (poet), just to name a couple.
Tell us a bit about your story Sweaty Sheets and Sleepless Nights?
The short story, Sweaty Sheets and Sleepless Nights, is a chapter from my upcoming novel, Vices, slated for release October 2014. The book, as a whole, is realistic fiction, based, loosely on my life. The story is of a woman who has recently gotten divorced from an abusive husband and is having to face her demons while healing and rebuilding her life for herself and her daughter, Tzionne. Sex is her vice. She uses it to drown out the pain and, momentarily escape from the painful existence that she has found herself in. This chapter, in particular, tells of her having a nightmare/flashback about her molestation as a child. And, just like in real life, she uses writing to deal with her pain.
What are your own greatest fears and how do you deal with them?
My greatest fear is being a bad mother. I know it may sound strange but I have seen and known so many people who have grown up and wished that their parents had done more, been there in different ways, etc. I don’t want that for my children. I deal with them by being as loving as possible. I am also as present as a person can be in school full-time and with a full-time job, and small business. I try to cook for them a few nights a week and allow them to talk openly about their feelings towards others and me. If they feel that I am doing something wrong or slacking in an area, they do not hesitate to tell me. I also make sure that I am someone that they can be proud of and that we spend quality time together, even if a few minutes before school.
Tell us about your poetry.
I write in several forms, but I prefer free verse. My favorite technique is slant rhyme. I love the way that you can play with the words and keep the rhythm of the poem without having to rhyme at the end all of the time. Poetry is my tool. My passion. It keeps me grounded and happy. I use it to express joy, pain, frustration, passion, you know, all of those great emotions that we experience from one day to the next. I write for myself but, because I am human, just like everyone else, I hope that someone hears what I am going through and knows that they are not alone in these feelings.
Would you like to share a poem with us?
Sure. This piece is called Ode to my Ovary and was written the day that I found out that I had a cyst on my ovaries and would have to get my tubes tied in order to have the cyst removal covered because of issues with my insurance.
Agonizingly begging for life,
Their turn on the turnstile of ovulation,
Even if unfertilized.
All the doctor said was that there was a growth, benign it seems, on my left ovary.
I heard him.
My husband heard him.
But only I heard the bone-chilling pleas.
My femininity pleading like murder victims in slash films.
Mind racing with inquiries.
What did I do to cause this?
Was it hurt internalized, held on to for too long that had irritated the tissue?
The seed of so many undeserving lovers missing the mark coating part of my womanhood 5cms thick?
All those years with permed hair when I was too young to defy it?
My preciousness 5 times ripped from me?
Fighting my mother for child’s custody?
I thought back on the things I had endured.
What others call strength that was merely suffrage cloaked and squelched silent because my experiences were drenched in taboos.
They had all convened in a central location, causing pain unrelenting.
A few simple surgeries would do it.
More hormones could regulate.
Simple fixes to an otherwise painstaking reality.
But, I heard the screams.
At puberty I learned what made me different from boys.
Took pride in my ability to create and incubate life.
Accepted my monthly curse as Godly fashioning for the trials of vagina-born existence.
And now… screams.
No, I had no plans of using them again
But they are still mine.
And I wanted them, intact, as supple and ready as they were in my youth.
A mark of age, a mark of pain, a common thing.
Women have these issues all the time.
Women, the mothers of creation, carriers of generations within our beings, know, that every month, from the moment of first menstrual bleed, their ability to bring forth life is depleting.
Taught not to cry. Never to complain. Accept our lot in life and what is issued to us at the hands of a good man… have these issues all the time.
This is just another rite of passage, I suppose.
I have reached another female plateau…
And the screams… are war cries of the sisters who have…
Had these issues all the time…
Welcoming me home…
Ode to my Ovary
(Thank you so much for sharing that with us Joi. DMK)
What do you like to do to relax?
Relax? I am not sure I know the meaning of that word. Lol. I like to listen to music. Play with and watch TV with my girls. Read. Ooh, and cooking. I love to cook. It helps me wind down.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on several projects. Personally, I am working to complete Vices so that I can release it by the set date of October 31st, my 33rd Bornday. I also have a mentoring program at a local Middle School where we teach the students basic life skills, and cooking. My company is preparing for the farewell show of our production of the Ntozake Shange play, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, we have done 4 shows on our mini-tour and this is our final show. We are also gearing up for our Third Annual Juneteenth Culturefest Celebration in Montgomery, Al.
How can readers connect with you?